AMLC chief quits post

MANILA- - Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) Secretariat Executive Director Julia Bacay-Abad has given up her post citing the need for new leadership.

In a press statement Monday, Abad said she would relinquish her post effective Jan. 31, 2017, but did not mention when she has submitted her resignation letter to the Council, which is composed of a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner and the Insurance Commission (IC) Commissioner.

She said the Council's efforts to fight money laundering and its predicate crimes and terrorism financing have intensified in recent years, especially since the amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in 2012 and 2013, which is the key for the exclusion of the Philippines from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist.

"The commitment of the AMLC to preserve the integrity of the financial system in accordance with international standards has been more relevant given a rapidly evolving regime that ushered in challenges to our country's governance and security," she said.

Abad, however, said that even as the Council continues to push for more effective drive against money laundering its hands "remain tied" because of "limitations in the form of legal and procedural restrictions that have time and again hampered the fast and efficient procurement of legal remedies."

Thus, further amendments on the law are being proposed "to make them more responsive in this eve-changing financial landscape."

"However, the recent developments that confronted the AMLC and its Secretariat gave me the occasion to realize that, though already resilient on its own, the AMLC Secretariat will be accorded with renewed strength through a transformed strategy," she said.

"To be more effective, the direction that the AMLC Secretariat will prospectively take would have to come from a new leadership," she said.

Abad said that even after her resignation, she would continue to support the Council "to steer it to greater heights."

She also called on all Filipinos to support the government's programs against money laundering and terrorism financing because "your support is necessary for the country to succeed in this important task."

The Council's investigations have so far brought the amount of funds and properties that are subject to forfeiture cases to about Php 4.061 billion.

In 2016 alone, the Council was able to run after individuals involved in the laundering of the USD 81 million that was part of the amount taken from the dollar account of the Bangladesh Bank with the Federal Reserve of New York in February of last year.

Among those filed with money laundering charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) are RCBC Jupiter Branch manager Maia Deguito, RCBC Treasurer Raul Tan,RCBC National Sales Director of the Retail Banking Group Ismael R. Reyes; Brigitte R. CapiAa, Retail Banking Group Regional Sales Director, and casino junket operator Kim Wong.

Abad said AMLC was able to get a partial judgment on the civil forfeiture case in favor of the government, which enabled it get back USD4.63 million worth of dollar-denominated fund and Php 488.28 million worth of funds, which have been turned over to the Bangladesh government.

However, the Council also came under fire after political candidates claim that it was being used for political prosecution and that it preventing the government's drive against money laundering, which Abad and officials of the BSP vehemently denied. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency